This week, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education sent a letter to New York Gov. David A. Paterson asking him to veto Senate Bill 5431. This legislation would establish mandatory continuing education requirements for New York-licensed massage therapists.

While the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education supports the intent and purpose of this bill, it contains several provisions that would restrict the business of continuing education providers, and would reduce the number and scope of continuing education (CE) courses that are currently available to the licensed massage therapists of that state.

The organization has taken this action in accordance with its commitment to represent the interests of its members. In this instance, Senate Bill 5431 would negatively impact continuing education providers and schools that sponsor CE. Here are the Alliance’s concerns with this legislation:

  1. Most of the states that require continuing education for massage license renewal rely on a single national approval system that is well established. The framework in Senate Bill 5431 is based on the creation of a new state approval process for sponsors of CE workshops, with an application fee of $900. Adding a state-based process will require all nationally-approved CE providers to go through yet another layer of approvals just to teach workshops in New York. The excessive cost and additional administrative requirements of such a process will place an unfair burden on these educators and business owners.
  2. It is a common practice for massage therapists to travel outside their home state to take continuing education. This may be at national massage therapy conferences or at specialized workshops offered by individual CE providers. The state-based approval provision in Senate Bill 5431 would unnecessarily limit the available options for New York-licensed massage therapists to earn their required number of CE hours each triennium.
  3. This legislation would prohibit CE providers who are not New York-licensed massage therapists from teaching hands-on modalities and techniques in their own workshops. Instead, they would be required to hire New York-licensed massage therapists to teach that portion of these classes. This requirement is impractical and unduly restrictive–and would create an unfair restraint of trade. Most health-care regulatory acts allow for credentialed out-of-state practitioners to come in to a jurisdiction for a limited period of time for teaching or consultative purposes.

While this bill was under consideration by the New York General Assembly, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education communicated these concerns to the bill sponsors, the executive secretary of the New York Board of Massage Therapy and the New York Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association. The Alliance also provided suggested language to amend the bill to remove these unnecessary restrictions, while maintaining its overall intent. Unfortunately, these recommendations were not taken.

Senate Bill 5431 is seriously flawed and does not sufficiently improve public protection, and a veto by Gov. Paterson is necessary to prevent this legislation from becoming law. If the state of New York chooses to adopt CE requirements for therapists’ license renewal, the Alliance will work to ensure these requirements are consistent with prevailing national standards in the massage therapy field.

Those who want to send their own veto request letter to Gov. Paterson should mail them to: State Capitol, Albany, New York 12224. The governor’s website also has a direct e-mail response feature: www.state.ny.us/governor/contact/GovernorContactForm.php.

About the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education

The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is the independent voice, advocate and resource for the community of massage therapy schools and educators. It serves the entire education sector–from entry-level training programs through post-graduate studies. Its national headquarters is located at 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, Virginia 22102. The phone number is (703) 506-2888, and the general office e-mail address is admin@afmte.org.

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